May 20, 2004
Lies in South Dakota
Diedrich is sounding more and more like his pals on the Hill every day, read this closely:A new television ad for Republican Larry Diedrich suggesting that Democrat Stephanie Herseth would cut Social Security sparked a squabble between the campaigns Wednesday, less than two weeks before the special election to fill South Dakota’s vacant House seat.
Herseth skipped an early evening campaign appearance in Madison to respond to the commercial, saying she has never supported any kind of cut in Social Security. She accused Diedrich’s campaign of distorting her record.
The ad - which appeared on TV stations around the state Wednesday afternoon - attacks the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, a senior-citizens lobbying group that endorsed Herseth this month. It cites a 4-year-old mailing to the group’s members, which says “long-term solutions” to Social Security budget woes could include adjusting the retirement age or lowering future benefits.
It also quotes a newspaper report from last month in which Herseth said federal programs might have to be cut across the board to make up budget deficits.
“Stephanie Herseth has accepted the endorsement of an organization whose official agenda is to cut Social Security and raise the retirement age,” the ad says.
Both Herseth and the seniors group fired back at the ad, saying it took the mailing out of context. Officials from the organization said they intended to inform members about what Congress was considering, not to take a position in favor of any of those options. They said the organization opposes changing the retirement age.
“This is nothing more than an attempt to scare seniors, to undermine the level of support that I enjoy,” Herseth said.
Herseth said that she was “a little bit angry” about the ad and that Diedrich should take it off the air. Continuing a theme of hers, she accused Diedrich of dragging down the race with negative ads.
Diedrich was campaigning in Mitchell and was unavailable for comment Wednesday. His spokeswoman, Danielle Holland, said the campaign stood firmly behind the ad. Holland said the ad serves voters by raising questions about the groups that have endorsed Herseth.
“If they feel the need to revise history, then that’s what they should do,” Holland said.
Did you catch that? Diedrich takes the endorsement of a group explicitly dedicated to preserving Social Security, dredges out a 4-year-old quote that simply acknowledges that some in Congress think these measures will be necessary while opposing the measures themselves, and Diedrich tries to claim Herseth is therefore in favor of those measures herself. And when they get called on their lie, it’s “revisionist history”! Somebody’s been spending a lot too much time with Karl Rove, and if he were to win it’s pretty clear we can throw him in the rubberstamp box. In fact, Diedrich, if you win don’t even bother coming to Washington, we can find a White House intern to vote for you or something.
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